How to get a job as a pastry chef
24 September 2021


A lot of people ask about how they can leave their current job and become a pastry chef. It is something that commonly presents itself as a passion at home and seems like the perfect thing to leave behind the 9-5 for.

The reality doesn’t always live up to the expectation, however it is something that is extremely rewarding. Being able to work with your passion all day and not having to take work home with you are two huge benefits of working in a kitchen.

The downsides though are that you will have to work long hours through weekends and evenings, this is a deal breaker for most, especially when paired with pay being very low compared to other industries that take less training and practice to master.

Depending on where you are looking to work the level of hours and stress will increase, working in a small bakery might be your ideal job, if so that’s great, you may not have to make too many sacrifices.

However, if you are looking to work in a Michelin starred pastry kitchen you will work with some of the best and most inspiring chefs in the world, but beware that starting at 8am and finishing at 12am, 6 days per week on a basic wage is the kind of commitment that will be expected.

Pastry chef qualifications

Whether or not you need qualifications to be a pastry chef is a question that everyone looking to get into the industry has.

Mainly I would always say you at least need an NVQ 2 in patisserie and it is also essential that you have a level 2 food hygiene certificate to work in the UK.

Both of these you can get at most colleges within a 6 months doing one day per week.

After getting your basic qualifications just to understand how things work in a professional kitchen and get basic skills under your belt I would then always preach experience over qualifications.

Working in a good quality kitchen for a few months will teach you more than you can learn in college in years. Working in a kitchen alongside getting your qualification is also a good idea since you can get the essentials and kickstart your career at the same time.

In this industry experience is king, the earlier you can get into a high quality kitchen the better. When looking at a CV I will check the basics are there and then always make a decision based on experience, seeing 6 months to a year of experience in a high quality kitchen will tell me exactly what to expect from a candidate. Having every qualification under the sun shows that you may know the theory but that doesn’t help an awful lot in a busy service.

How to get a job as a pastry chef

There is a common problem with getting a job at most high-quality hotels and restaurants. Most don’t need to advertise. There is usually a waiting list of people ready to work in Michelin starred kitchens so going to a recruitment agency isn’t the best way in if you are serious about making quick jumps up.

As in any industry, knowing someone who is working inside the kitchen (preferably high up) will help. That is something to pull on in the future when old colleagues move to other kitchens. Nothing gets you further in the door than a good word.

The problem is when you are starting out you won’t have experience or contacts. The best thing to do to jump that first rung on the ladder is to go and work in the kitchen you want for free.

This may mean working on your normal job’s day off for a few months. But once you get in the door and impress those who make the decisions, you can guarantee that if there is a space available, you’ll be first on the list.

Work for free, work hard and you will be surprised at how many kitchens will make space for you. Even if they weren’t originally looking for someone, if you work hard you’ll get your first step.

After this it is a case of using the contacts of others and making friends. In this industry people move around all the time and job seeking will get easier and easier.

Equipment to buy

When it comes to buying equipment for a new job you don’t need to go crazy. Most of the time when chefs are new to the industry, they will show up with a huge tool box. Inside is every piece of equipment you can imagine. Then about 20 minutes into their first day they realise that most kitchens are tiny and there is just no space for it. That’s if you aren’t turned around as soon as you walk through the door with it.

Most of the equipment you will need is already in the kitchen. All you want to bring with you is a small knife roll that contains chef’s knife, a paring knife (small knife) and possibly a peeler and a pen. That will cover you for about 90% of your career. Anything else that you need will be in the kitchen already.

If for example the palette knives, or some other piece of equipment is old or awful to use then just make a note and pick up your own.

Save some money and wait until you know what you need.

Moving up

Moving up through the ranks of a kitchen can sometimes be a very competitive business. Lots of ego flying around and the desire to do well can sometimes set you on a path that will cause the staff you are one day managing to dislike you.

Just remember, you might beat someone to a promotion but after you get that promotion, they are going to be under you and your success relies on the productivity of those below you. Don’t shoot yourself in the foot.

The best way to move up quickly is to always ask and push for more responsibility. Learn the role of the next level up the best you can by asking questions and getting involved. Don’t ever get comfortable in your own bubble with no awareness of what is going on around you.

The other side of that coin is to demonstrate that you can manage having more people in your charge. Helping those below you and putting their needs before yours is the most important part of management.

Teach them what you know and learn how you can serve them best with your knowledge so that they will serve you with the same intensity and more.

Lastly, make sure you never stop learning. You can’t stay valuable to a business if you always stay still in terms of learning and developing. Businesses and trends move fast, so keep up with the flow and contribute to moving things forward.

Master these things and you will be well on your way to the next promotion.

To grow your knowledge and learn new recipes every month sign up to The Online Pastry School for free.

To find pastry chef jobs near you check here



Get a free month of online lessons

with pastry chefs and bakers from some of the best restaurants in the world and learn the secrets to producing Michelin quality bakes and desserts, even if you are a beginner!

Related Posts